TESTS OF A TRUE PROPHET

TESTS OF A TRUE PROPHET

 "Despise not prophesying's. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21

 INTRODUCTION

Ellen's White's experience was very similar to that of the prophet Daniel who had visions. How does God communicate to a prophet? "In visions and dreams." [ NUM 12:6 ] Did Daniel have dreams and visions? Yes. [ DAN 7:1, 8:1 ] Physical phenomena accompanied Daniel while in vision.

  [ DAN 10:8  ] "there remained no strength in me"
  [ DAN 10:9  ] "then was I in a deep sleep on my face"
  [ DAN 10:10 ] "an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and
                 upon the palms of my hands"
  [ DAN 10:17 ] "neither is there breath left in me"
  [ DAN 10:18 ] "he touched me"

Throughout history, God has spoken to His people through prophets. As we draw closer to the end of time, it should come as no surprise that individuals arise claiming to be a prophet of God. However, nearly all of these fail to meet the scriptural requirements for a true prophet. Rene Noorbergen, has studied a number of psychics and acclaimed prophets including Jeane Dixon, and Nostradamus (Jeane Dixon, My Life and Prophecies and Nostradamus: Invitation to a Holocaust). In his book Ellen White: Prophet of Destiny he lists ten biblical requirements for a true prophet. These are:

1) A true prophet does not lie. His predictions will be fulfilled. (Jer. 28:9, "But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.")

2) A true prophet prophesies in the name of the Lord, not in his own name. (2 Pet. 1:21, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.")

3) A true prophet does not give his own private interpretation of prophecy. (2 Pet. 1:20, "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.")

4) A true prophet points out the sins and transgressions of the people against God. (Isa. 58:1, "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.)

5) A true prophet is to warn the people of God's coming judgment. (Examples of judgment such as portrayed in Isa. 24:20, "The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls --never to rise again." and Rev. 14:6, 7, "Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth --to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, 'Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.'").

6) A true prophet edifies the church, counsels and advises it in religious matters. (1 Cor. 14:3, 4, "But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.")

7) A true prophet's words will be in absolute harmony with the words of the prophets that have preceded him. (Isa. 8:20, "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.")

8) A true prophet recognizes the incarnation of Jesus Christ. (1 John 4:1-3, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.")

9) A true prophet can be recognized by the results of his work. (Matt. 7:16-20, "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.")

10) A true prophet acts in accordance with the will and approval of God. (Deut. 18:19, "If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.")

Let's expand two of the more significant passages above:

Deut. 18:15-22. [Moses said to his people] "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. . . . The LORD said to me: 'What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.' You may say to yourselves, 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?' If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him."

Isaiah 8:19-22, "When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness."

"Based on these texts, it becomes obvious that not everyone who prophecies is a prophet of God-for a true prophet is not a psychic who performs with the aid of a mental or "spiritual" crutch, but is someone who has no degree of freedom either in tuning in or controlling the prophetic impulses or prophetic recall. These impulses are superimposed over the prophet's conscious mind by a supernatural personal being, having absolute knowledge of both past and future, making no allowance for error or human miscalculation." (Noorbergen, Ellen White: Prophet of Destiny, pp. 21, 22).

HOW TO RECOGNIZE THE TRUE

From time to time, someone will tell me a new “prophet” has arisen. My comment is that if the person is a genuine prophet, he or she will show the evidences of one. We have a right to expect them to be provided; for, since every word a prophet writes is flawless, it is of the deepest urgency that we obtain definite evidence from God that a new prophet is among us!

Especially prominent among them, however, are two factors: (1) The person will be taken into vision in public meetings, in view of many people. (2) While in vision (and some of them rather lengthy), he or she will not breatheRepeatedly, both evidences occurred during the 1840s and 1850s. That was enough time for the believers to recognize that she was a true prophet. In later years, public visions were not needed.

Here are several examples; the first occurred on June 26, 1854:

“I [D.H. Lamson] was then 17 years old. It seems to me I can almost hear those thrilling shouts of ‘G-l-o-r-y!’ which she uttered. Then she sank back to the floor, not falling, but sinking gently, and was supported in the arms of an attendant.

“Two physicians came in, an old man and a young man. Brother White was anxious that they should examine Sister White closely, which they did. A looking glass was brought, and one of them held it over her mouth while she talked; but very soon they gave this up, and said, ‘She doesn’t breathe!

Then they closely examined her sides as she spoke, to find some evidence of deep breathing, but they did not find it. “As they closed this part of the examination, she arose to her feet, still in vision, holding a Bible high up, turning from passage to passage, quoting correctly, although the eyes were looking upward and away from the Book.

“She had a view of the seven last plagues. Then she saw the triumph of the saints, and her shouts of triumph I can seem to hear even now. To these facts I freely testify.”—Elder D.H. Lamson, Hillsdale, Michigan, Feb. 8, 1893; Great Second Advent Movement, 207-208.

Here are the words of two other witnesses who were there that night:

“I remember the meeting when the trial was made, namely, to test what Brother White had frequently said, that Sister White did not breathe while in vision, but I cannot recall the name of the doctor who was present. . . . It must have been Dr. Fleming, as he was the doctor called sometimes for counsel. He is, however, now dead. I can say this much, that the test was made, and no sign of breath was visible on the looking glass.”—Drusilla Lamson, quoted in Great Second Advent Movement, 208.

“This is to certify that I have read the above testimonials of David Lamson and Mrs. Drusilla Lamson, concerning the physician’s statement when examining Mrs. E.G. White while she was in vision, June 26, 1854.

“I was present at that meeting, and witnessed the examination. I agree with what is stated by Brother and Sister Lamson, and would say further that it was Doctor Fleming and another younger physician who made the examination. After Mrs. White rose to her feet, as they have stated, quoting the texts of Scripture, Doctor Fleming called for a lighted candle. He held this candle as near her lips as possible without burning, and in direct line with her breath in case she breathed. There was not the slightest flicker of the blaze. The doctor then said, with emphasis,‘That settles it forever; there is no breath in her body.’ ”—David Seeley of Fayette, Iowa, testimony dated August 29, 1897; Great Second Advent Movement, 208-209.

The following incident occurred three years later in March 1857:

“We were present when Sister E.G. White had a vision in Waldron’s Hall, Hillsdale. Dr. Lord made an examination, and said, ‘Her heart beats, but there is no breath. There is life, but no action of the lungs. I cannot account for this condition.”— Mr. and Mrs. A. F. Fowler, Hillsdale, Michigan, Jan. 1, 1891; Great Second Advent Movement, 209.

In the above examinations, notice that, while in vision, Ellen spoke without breathing out. It is impossible to speak without exhaling, yet she would do it for over an hour. A person cannot normally stop breathing more than a few minutes without passing into unconsciousness and death.

“I was present when Sister White had the above-named vision in Waldron’s Hall, Hillsdale. In addition to the above statement, I heard the doctor say that Sister White’s condition in vision was ‘beyond his knowledge.’ He also said, ‘There is something supernatural about that.’ ”—C.S. Glover, Battle Creek, Michigan, Jan. 19, 1891; Great Second Advent Movement, 209.

Interestingly enough, it was in the above vision that, for the first time, Ellen was told that the Laodicean message included the Advent believers. You can read what she was there shown in 1 Testimonies, 141.

In June 1857, the Whites had driven to Buck’s Bridge, New York, for weekend meetings. As James White spoke to a full house, Ellen was taken off into vision. In the audience that morning was a young man, 22-year-old Daniel Bourdeau from Vermont, who would later become one of our leading evangelists. He helped pioneer the work in California, and (because he was fluent in French) later in Switzerland, France, and Italy. I like his statement about Ellen in vision the best—because what he did was a test which cannot be faked!

“June 28, 1857, I saw Sister Ellen G. White in vision for the first time. I was an unbeliever in the visions; but one circumstance among others that I might mention convinced me that her visions were of God.

“To satisfy my mind as to whether she breathed or not, I first put my hand on her chest sufficiently long to know that there was no more heaving of the lungs than there would have been had she been a corpse. I then took my hand and placed it over her mouth, pinching her nostrils between my thumb and forefinger, so that it was impossible for her to exhale or inhale air, even if she had desired to do so. I held her thus with my hand about ten minutes, long enough for her to suffocate under ordinary circumstances. She was not in the least affected by this ordeal.

“Since witnessing this wonderful phenomenon, I have not once been inclined to doubt the divine origin of her visions.”—D.T. Bourdeau, Battle Creek, Michigan, Feb. 4, 1891; Great Second Advent Movement, 208.

Here are three additional descriptions of Ellen’s condition while in vision. The first statement is by J.N. Andrews who first saw her in vision in 1852 and said that he had seen her in vision fifty times.

“In passing into vision, she gives three enrapturing shouts of ‘Glory!’ which echo and re-echo, the second, and especially the third, fainter but more thrilling than the first, the voice resembling that of one quite a distance from you, and just going out of hearing.

“For about four or five seconds she seems to drop down like a person in a swoon, or one having lost his strength; she then seems to be instantly filled with superhuman strength, sometimes rising at once to her feet and walking about the room. There are frequent movements of the hands and arms, pointing to the right or left as her head turns. All these movements are made in a most graceful manner. In whatever position the hand or arm may be placed, it is impossible for anyone to move it.

Her eyes are always open, but she does not wink; her head is raised, and she is looking upward, not with a vacant stare, but with a pleasant expression, only differing from the normal in that she appears to be looking intently at some distant object.

She does not breathe, yet her pulse beats regularly. Her countenance is pleasant, and the color of her face as florid as in her natural state.”—J.N. Andrews statement; Great Second Advent Movement, 204-205.

Mrs. Martha Amadon, who knew Ellen for many years, gave this description:

“There was never an excitement among those present during a vision; nothing caused fear. It was a solemn, quiet scene, sometimes lasting an hour . . When the vision was ended, and she lost sight of the heavenly light, as it were, coming back to the earth once more, she would exclaim with a long-drawn sigh, as she took her first natural breath, ‘D-a-r-k.’ She was then limp and strengthless.”—Martha Amadon, Documentary File 373.

Here is how James White described the visions in his 1968 book, Life Incidents:

“1. She is utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, as has been proved by the most rigid tests, but views herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings. “2. She does not breathe. During the entire period of her continuance in vision, which has at different times ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours, there is no breath, as has been repeatedly proved by pressing upon the chest, and by closing the mouth and nostrils.

“3. Immediately on entering vision, her muscles become rigid, and joints fixed, so far as any external force can influence them. At the same time her movements and gestures, which are frequent, are free and graceful, and cannot be hindered nor controlled by the strongest person.

“4. On coming out of vision, whether in the daytime or a well-lighted room at night, all is total darkness. Her power to distinguish even the most brilliant objects, held within a few inches of the eyes, returns but gradually. . .

She has probably had, during the past twentythree  years, between one and two hundred visions. These have been given under almost every variety of circumstance, yet maintaining a wonderful similarity.”— James White, Life Incidents, 272.

"Each one of you may know for yourself that you have a living Saviour, that He is your helper and your God. You need not stand where you say, 'I do not know whether I am saved.' Do you believe in Christ as your personal Saviour? If you do, then rejoice" (General Conference Bulletin, April 10, 1901).

To a woman who was struggling with doubts Ellen White wrote:

"The message from God to me for you is 'Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37). If you have nothing else to plead before God but this one promise from your Lord and Saviour, you have the assurance that you will never, never be turned away. It may seem to you that you are hanging upon a single promise, but appropriate that one promise, and it will open to you the whole treasure house of the riches of the grace of Christ. Cling to that promise and you are safe. 'Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.' Present this assurance to Jesus, and you are as safe as though inside the city of God" (Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 175).

"I do not claim to be a prophetess."

Why does the Seventh-day Adventist church believe that Ellen G. White received the gift of prophecy when she said that she did not claim to be a prophetess? The misuse often made of this Ellen White statement is an illustration of the importance of proper context. Here, in her own words, is what Ellen White did and did not mean by her statement:

"Some have stumbled over the fact that I said I did not claim to be a prophet; and they have asked, Why is this?

"I have had no claims to make, only that I am instructed that I am the Lord's messenger; that He called me in my youth to be His messenger, to receive His word, and to give a clear and decided message in the name of the Lord Jesus.

"Early in my youth I was asked several times, Are you a prophet? I have ever responded, I am the Lord's messenger. I know that many have called me a prophet, but I have made no claim to this title. My Saviour declared me to be His messenger. 'Your work,' He instructed me, 'is to bear My word. Strange things will arise, and in your youth I set you apart to bear the message to the erring ones, to carry the word before unbelievers, and with pen and voice to reprove from the Word actions that are not right. Exhort from the Word. I will make My Word open to you. It shall not be as a strange language. In the true eloquence of simplicity, with voice and pen, the messages that I give shall be heard from one who has never learned in the schools. My Spirit and My power shall be with you.' . . .

"Why have I not claimed to be a prophet?--Because in these days many who boldly claim that they are prophets are a reproach to the cause of Christ; and because my work includes much more than the word 'prophet' signifies. . . .

"To claim to be a prophetess is something that I have never done. If others call me by that name, I have no controversy with them. But my work has covered so many lines that I cannot call myself other than a messenger, sent to bear a message from the Lord to His people, and to take up work in any line that He points out.

"When I was last in Battle Creek, I said before a large congregation that I did not claim to be a prophetess. Twice I referred to this matter, intending each time to make the statement, 'I do not claim to be a prophetess.' If I spoke otherwise than this, let all now understand that what I had in mind to say was that I do not claim the title of prophet or prophetess" (Review and Herald, July 26, 1906, reprinted in Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 31-35).

"During the discourse, I said that I did not claim to be a prophetess. Some were surprised at this statement, and as much is being said in regard to it, I will make an explanation. Others have called me a prophetess, but I have never assumed that title. I have not felt that it was my duty thus to designate myself. Those who boldly assume that they are prophets in this our day are often a reproach to the cause of Christ.

"My work includes much more than this name signifies. I regard myself as a messenger, entrusted by the Lord with messages for His people" (Letter 55, 1905; quoted in Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 35, 36).

Comments